The Purbeck Folk Festival – Day 1

It's been a busy year of festivals and there seem to be more than ever so why does the world need yet another?

Well when they are of the quality of the Purbeck Folk Festival then they can definitely stay.

Nestled in the heart of the Purbecks this intimate gathering of 3000 souls has begun to look like a serious contender on the festival ciruit

The friendly feel begins the moment you roll up and wander into the box office. It makes a pleasant change to be greeted by a smile and dealt with efficiently, there are a few large festivals that could take note here.

We are given a small map and allowed to find our own space, choosing a spot in the quiet camping area and after putting up the tent (8 mins - a record) I stand with a glass of red taking in the stunning view

Perusing the listings gives me the first trauma of the weekend - I've already missed Nizlopi due to 'pressures of work' so we march off down the stony track towards the site proper. Trauma 2 soon reveals itself as I realise we're bleedin miles away from the music down a very steep hill. It's fine going down but coming back up after a skinful may prove interesting!

Anyroadup we happen upon the long barn and Furrow Collective, a group of 'proper' folk musicians who sing in a variety of languages, some of which I'm pretty convinced are made up just to annoy English people. They're pretty damn good though.

Following a really good set we wander off and find ourselves outside the Duck Shed where that Si Genaro is compering an evening of top quality music. Have a great chat with that Chris Payn who's 2 bottles into a four bottle of wine evening (more later) and shoot the shit with all sorts of musicians that we didn't expect to be there.

Have a nice old chinwag with Jack Grace who then goes and gives one of his storming sets in the shed, bags of emotion and technically gifted guitar combine to raise the standard of the evening even more. Hats off. Realise that the Duck Shed is difficult to shoot being very small and lit with lights that seem to all be a version of red.

Too soon it's time to go and hear Eddie Reader back in the long barn. I get bored quickly (even though others have said they loved her set) and decide to go off and see the Jack Ratts in the High Barn. A choice I didn't regret.

The Ratts are on fire and give us a wonderfully energetic, aggressive and in your face hour of modern folk. For a photographer they are a gift being not only photogenic but also mobile. I'm all over the place trying to get decent shots of the fast paced events winding up the ISO and hoping to be pointing in the right direction at the right time.

For a music fan though it's just what a festival band should be. They are having fun with the audience and the barn becomes a giant party as the Ratts go through their repertoire of some original and some traditional toons.

Respeck goes to the bar staff who were keeping the punters well oiled. In fact we didn't have a long wait all weekend for a pint even though I'm not sure I always got what I ordered. And why no crisps or pork scratchings? A trick missed there. The bars sported a fine selection of ales and a good slate of ciders. There weren't any lagers there (but we don't want that sort of person at a folk festival do we?) and i'm not sure about the fruit based drinks for the ladies. The supply of soft drinks was somewhat patchy too.

The fine ale flowing we wend our way back towards the tent only to pass Chris outside the duck shed. We have a chat before suddenly someone shouts "you're on Chris" and he's dragged on to the stage. Now by this point CP has been enjoying the 'ambience' of the festival for quite a time and he struggles to find the mike but then gives a really good version of Bohemian Rhapsody. Admittedly there are bits where he stops for no apparent reason but that doesn't matter because the assembled throng in the intimate duck shed fill in and it makes the evening all the more special.

Ever the professional Chris apologises profusely for being a bit too rock n roll but it didn't really matter because we'd all had a great Queen singalong. Which was nice.

We continue up the long hill and realise that there are no lights and we can't work out where the tent is. So we carry on walking and eventually happen upon it on a wonderfully clear starry night. I try and take some star shots and fail miserably. A shooting star ...erm... shoots overhead as if to mock the photographer who can't point and fire quick enough.Bastard.

Thanks for reading this far - you can see the second part of our festival review here if you can stand it

scroll down for the gallery of photos from the first day.

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Click on a photo for a lager version

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